Archive for the 'spiritual interpretations' Category

Up on the roof

February 19, 2015

I went up to my study a few minutes ago and I saw something moving on the roof next door.  A snow rake?  From someone up on a ladder?  Bob does that from time to time.

This time Bob was up on the top roof himself, removing snow from up there while walking on the surface.  I couldn’t watch, I came downstairs.  A neighbor further down the street died after a fall from a ladder at his home.  It happens, even if it doesn’t happen often.

Whenever I see people walking a high roof (usually they are professional roofers on a dry roof in good weather), I have a sense that there’s a lesson in there for me, especially in my aversion to watching (even professional roofers).  It’s something like, “Well, that’s what you do (or did) and it was hard to watch you, too.”

And then I draw a blank about what that could be and usually end up doubting the entire messaging incident itself.  But these incidents come up fairly often, so I conclude that I haven’t yet understood something yet that would be helpful for me to understand.

The only thing that I can come up with is that I have gone in and looked at the world through the perspective of narcissists who have a severely underdeveloped capacity for connecting their conscious self with their subconscious self, and maintained (not without a struggle) my own bearing that this is just their point of view and that i [this is what I typed without realizing it, and I’m going to leave it] have been able to step out of it ultimately.  Maybe “the fall” would have been to have become completely swept up in it and forgotten my own perspective or not been able to get back to experiencing the world from it — I am certainly aware that those are hazards.  In fact some of them happened to me as a child and did not become fully resolved until I was in my early forties.  Perhaps experiencing that journey was the hazard, perhaps it was not a foregone conclusion that I would ever emerge and come back to my own worldview.

And what would have been the point of such a journey?  I don’t think I in particular did it because I had a personal desire to do it.  Maybe it provided something needed by the people whose point of view I looked out through temporarily, I guess they would be in a better position to speak to that.  Or maybe the point of the exercise can only be understood from a loftier perch with a bird’s eye view, I don’t know.  I do know that i am more comfortable in my own skin, even if it has its drawbacks.  Maybe that is the task the narcissists I have interacted with are working on, maybe I have merely mirrored their own task.  (It’s a tough one.)  Maybe that’s what this has been all about.


More on mosaics

July 23, 2014

When I was watching the co-owner of the mosaic studio begin to cut the broken cup pieces in preparation for reconfiguring them (see previous post), one of the things she showed me was how by cutting a curved piece, she could in effect flatten it.  (I think it was that by cutting the curved piece along one plane and making it smaller, the contrast producing the curve became reduced in each of the smaller pieces, and so they were flatter.)

Now that suggests to me a spiritual parallel, because I think we human beings are faced with trying to perceive more dimensions of the universe than our everyday world deals with.  So when we perceive something from another realm, maybe we hear it as music, maybe we channel it into poetry or a visual art;  but some of us plug into a small fragment of the much larger thing with many dimensions and try to translate it into linear rational thought and language.  When we try to do that, I think it’s only by limiting the attempt to bringing only a small piece of it into this world that we are able to bring it into this world at all.  It can feel as if we are flattening the idea in breaking it into smaller pieces while we are still remaining consistent with the curves of the original idea as a whole.

The blind men feeling the elephant in the traditional telling of the tale generalize from their personal understanding, and my usual understanding of the tale is that we all need to communicate and share our understandings in order to get at a more profound understanding and peaceful relations with each other.  But today I got to thinking more along the lines of the difficulty of bringing the whole (understanding) into the world at all, no matter the method employed.  With the arts, something of the multidimensional experience I think is being reproduced, but it doesn’t usually become understood in rational thought and integrated into our mundane activities.  So it seems to me there is a trade-off even there, and that it is difficult if not impossible to bring the curved surface completely intact into a realm of flatness:  the universe is curved but our material world is in a sense flat.  When we as inhabitants of this material world poke our perception into, or permit our perception to take in, other realms, we perceive the curves of things.  Bringing them back into this world to share with others here is a whole other project.

Treading carefully

July 13, 2014

“The significance of Jesus’ wounded body is his deliberate and conscious holding of the pain of the world and refusing to send it elsewhere.”  This is from Father Rohr’s Daily Meditation for today.

I see this — what Jesus is described here as having done — as a step.  A brave and courageous step, but a step nonetheless, one in a series.

Yes, it’s a big deal not to spew out all that pain back into the world, but all that pain has to go somewhere.  It needs to be discharged, albeit safely.

For that I think there are techniques — including the tried and true, “Dear God, I can’t do this myself, please help me.”  Which can also be expressed as a request to the universe for dilution of dense negative energy or for sending it where it can be transformed and recycled into new life and positive energy.  It goes not back into this world of ours but elsewhere.  I suspect it is a step that requires outside help, that humans (incarnated spirit) can’t do it on our own.

I think it took someone of Jesus’ make-up to take the step of capturing the pain, but I am not convinced his step was the end of the process.  Vacuuming all that up may have been helpful, and he may have done it as well as it could be done, but I don’t think the outcome of that step was the final phase of the process.  I could see it as a watershed moment, but not as an ultimate one.

I actually more often see it as a template for what more of us can learn to do ourselves, although, as I say, I see capturing pain as only a step in the process of draining our swamp.  Whether we can also take the step of discharging the pain safely is another matter, and if we can’t, the next athlete in the relay will take that step, the way I see what’s going on.


Falling tree limbs

June 1, 2014

The other day I was engaging in behavior Jordan associates with “old people” and watching out the window what was going on in a backyard up the hill.

It was tree trimming from a huge cherry-picker truck.

An additional point of interest for me was whether the trimming would include trees that had grown along the stockade fence that had been erected after that neighbor and another had had a dispute over the clean-up of a fallen limb from one neighbor’s tree into the other neighbor’s backyard.  Those trees along the fence seem to have remained untouched;  the work seems to have consisted of thinning the lower limbs and branches of older trees elsewhere in the yard.

This occurred the other day.

Yesterday I was refilling a birdbath towards the back of my yard, and discovered behind the area in which it sits a substantial downed limb.  It was from a maple and from a tree rooted elsewhere but which provides shade for my yard.

It was big but not huge.  I carried it out front, lopped what could be lopped with the loppers, and then Joe broke up the thicker parts into sections we could dispose of.

It was not a big deal, especially with Joe around.  (My sons were otherwise engaged, one in New Hampshire, the other more locally.)

When tree limbs fall softly and with no discernible damage and are easily put into the composting stream, I feel some cycle has occurred successfully.

It also reminds me of understandings people receive from what’s beyond us:  they should fall into our perception without harm and we should incorporate them into our life stream easily, they should not fell us as they fall themselves.  So when the physical tree limb falls harmlessly, I am hopeful that it echoes a safe landing for other falling phenomena, too.



April 26, 2014

Before I started chatting with my fellow Diana in the lobby this morning (see previous post), I was reading “Have You Lost Your Mind?” in The New Yorker.  It’s by Michael Kinsley.

It’s about awareness of dementia and Parkinson’s disease, at least as far as I read this morning (a little over a third of it, I think).  I was really grabbed by the description in the second paragraph of

a comic-book tale about some residents of our three-dimensional world who go through a hole in space, or something like that, and find themselves living in two dimensions.  ‘And nothing’s changed,’ one says, triumphantly, unable to to see what we can see:  that he is now the approximate shape and depth of a postage stamp.  Maybe this is what the descent into dementia is like:  everyone around you knows or suspects you have it, but to yourself you seem the same.

That’s close to how I imagine the relationship between how we think when we are incarnated (the world with fewer dimensions) and how we think when our souls are not constrained by the material world (the world with more dimensions).  Maybe enlightenment is when we become aware of the difference.


January 26, 2014

There’s a version in another culture of the story the Romans tell about Lucretia in order to explain how the reign of the kings got overthrown and the Roman Republic got established.

The Roman myth is known as “The Rape of Lucretia,” and in the Augustan Roman historian Livy’s version of it, Lucretia is coerced into having sex with Tarquin (a king) by his threat of shaming her more by making it look as if she had had sex with a slave.

In this version in another culture, the Lucretia character rebuffs a suitor on the grounds that she’s married, he says, “Well, I can fix that,” and kills her husband.  He then forces himself on her.  She’s now a raped widow with orphans.  In her culture, she should marry her rapist.  In one variant, she kills herself rather than do this, in another, he refuses to marry her because he doesn’t want two families.  I don’t think this culture thought in terms of divorce, but if it had, I think he would have said, “What?  I can’t do that!  That would have a negative impact on my family!”

How should the male character resolve the situation?  Clearly the train left the station when he figured he should have more sex — whatever went into that “decision” is the problem.  If he is that same person, it is doubtful he will do something helpful, even if one assumes a helpful resolution exists in theory.  If he develops some further insight into himself and others as a result of this situation — we could imagine a variant, maybe the operatic version, in which he is moved to compassion in a final scene with swelling music — maybe he will at least voice the realization that he has created a situation in which he has enriched himself at the expense of others, no matter what he does now.

In a situation in which it is unclear what to do, there is always the “Phone a Friend” option — ask the universe, pray to God, look deep within for insight.  That may well be a lesson of the situation, to present the male character with a problem he can’t solve on his own.

I don’t actually know what understanding of what to do this male character would develop if he did that — in the variants I know, no epiphany comes because he isn’t willing to ask the universe or God and he hasn’t developed his ability to hear what wisdom lies within himself.  Maybe his amend is to live a changed life going forward and arrange for substitute care of those he has made destitute in the present.

In this other culture, the story doesn’t usher in a new world order abruptly.  It’s more of an illustration of how we are stuck with an old flawed one when people don’t learn from situations in which they are challenged to do more than think and behave in their usual patterns.

Roast beef sandwich

November 28, 2013

Jordan looked at me sheepishly this morning and said he had something to apologize to me for.

He had eaten a roast beef sandwich he had bought for me.

He had gone out with friends after class yesterday, and at a restaurant they ate at, had ordered a sandwich for me as take-out.  On his way home, he had stopped at the home of a friend he’s known for ages, who was home on break from college, and he stayed there into the evening.

He got hungry while he was at the friend’s house, and “there wasn’t anything to eat,” which was plausible, not so much because of want but because of what I might call “food issues,” so Jordan ate the sandwich he had with him.

I told him, that despite the fact that he doesn’t agree with my “karmic nonsense,” I was going to tell him how this was actually great news to me in a way;  my nagging issue that some guy “done me wrong” and took from me something that was mine, had been reduced to my child eating a roast beef sandwich because he was hungry — that scenario didn’t bother me, and, he was apologetic about it (not to mention aware of what he had done — and he said he plans to get me another sandwich).  I have a very strong sense that this pattern of feeling wronged by a guy who doesn’t give back, and takes advantage of my having given to him first, is a very old pattern for me, or possibly for someone I have been helping (I do think I help people clean up their old and difficult karma when they get too stuck).  When the pattern reaches an innocuous iteration, it’s like the last ripple of a wave, or the boat getting close enough to the dock that one can step or jump out onto terra firma.

So I am quite happy, in a way, to hear about my missing roast beef sandwich.  I like feedback that progress has been made.  I feel like I have successfully let go of something that was impeding me, finally.  And I am grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving

Pristine feathers, tattered feathers

October 29, 2013

Yesterday I ended my walk by going through the small patch of woods behind the middle school and near my house.

I had run into a woman I know, while I was walking.  She was out on her regular route, I was improvising mine.  We had an enjoyable conversation about the This Old House renovation that’s been going on in our neighborhood.  It turned out we both had the same questions about it and the same reaction to it.  We talked a little about Willy, because she knew him, and knew the kids, through seeing them out walking the dog.  I told her today (it was “tomorrow” then) would have been his birthday.

At Eastern Avenue we went our separate ways, she to go up to the Water Tower and Park Ave., me to go down to Robbins Farm and sit and look at the Boston skyline.

When I finished and set off to return home, I went down a road that would lead me to one of the entrances to the patch of woods I mentioned.  Within the woods, I went up the hill, and on my way up, I came across two feathers, the first recognizable as a hawk feather, despite its being a little the worse for wear, the second, probably one as well, given its length and width and proximity to the first, but too tattered for me to be able to really tell for sure.

I am reminded of the quite pristine hawk feathers I encountered near Willy’s grave a day before his yahrzeit this past summer.

Call it what you will, I am drawn to compare and contrast and derive an interpretation.  What I come to is that Willy achieved what he needed to in order to return those tattered feathers to their pristine state.  That’s what I perceive from the inside looking out from my perspective, it probably looks quite different to someone, or everybody, else.  So be it.

I would link to Leslie Smith’s song “Words of a Kind” if I could find it on YouTube.  (Here’s a different one of her songs instead.  “Words of a Kind” talks about our tattered feathers, albeit from a different perspective, the more usual one, I think, but I love the song.  And it’s part of where I go when I start thinking about tattered feathers.  Only I can see how we may “redeem” them and return them to their pristine state.

Artificial byproduct or precious goal?

October 18, 2013

Well, I’m glad somebody had more patience with the NYTimes and their focus on debunking faith than I do.  There’s a letter today that talks about the writer’s research finding that people who endure trauma need their faith.

This way of stating the scientist perspective makes it easier to see the resolution:  faith is both a byproduct of trauma and a goal of development.

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations of late have talked about the role of suffering in our spiritual development, including today’s.  Religion and the letter writer (Shane Sharp, an assistant professor of sociology at Northern Illinois University) are in agreement:  trauma can result in the state of mind of faith.

Scientists seem to think of this result as an artificial state of mind, while the religious camp sees it as reaching a desirable goal.  They are describing the same thing, only characterizing it differently.  The disagreement is all about the adjectives, the judgment of the phenomenon.

That leads to the questions of, why we are judging the phenomenon, how we should judge it, by what criteria are we judging it, etc.

But it also, for me, provides the unification of the two competing camps:  the phenomenon occurs, our need to appraise it is just our human need, not one that exists outside of ourselves.

At the highest reaches of the universe there is no appraising and judging.  It is the state of achieving “Let it be.”  In scientific circles I thought we focus on the objective and withhold our editorial response.

We can all just rest on the narrow point of equilibrium that suffering produces the phenomenon of faith, that faith exists.

Some of us celebrate it, some of us deride it, some of us rely on it, some of us wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole.  But we agree that the phenomenon exists.

That, to me, is an example of how we bridge a perceived gap.

Thought forms and not thought forms

October 15, 2013

Since there is no comments section, at least as yet, to a piece in the NYTimes about thought forms, I thought I’d just speak my piece here and point out that there are things that are thought forms and things that are not thought forms.  Conflating the two categories is not helpful.